Oracle Pushes Forward On Servers With New SPARC Processors, Solaris 11

Oracle is showing its continued commitment to the server product line it inherited along with its acquisition of Sun Microsystems with the introduction of new SPARC processors and the latest version of the Solaris operating system.

Oracle late last week unveiled new models in both of its families of SPARC processors, along with a major update to its Solaris operating system, all of which the company said shows it is maintaining the investment in those technologies as promised when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in January.

The company also unveiled new SPARC servers in line with a roadmap for SPARC enterprise servers through 2015 it released earlier this year.

Oracle this month updated both its SPARC T-series and SPARC M-series processors with increased core counts and performance.

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John Fowler, executive vice president for systems at Oracle, said his company's new SPARC T3-4, a 16-core version of its T3 series, is now available. The SPARC T3-4 was originally unveiled in September at Oracle OpenWorld.

The SPARC T3-4 processors were featured in a new series of appliances, the Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud T3-1B. The Exalogic Elastic Cloud T3-1B was designed for customers looking to build cloud computing infrastructures, and provides virtualized compute, storage, and networking resources in a single appliance.

The SPARC T3-4 processors were also used to refresh Oracle's SPARC server product line, including a new model, the SPARC Supercluster server. A SPARC Supercluster configured with 108 SPARC T3 processors with 1,728 cores, 13.5 TBs of memory, 40-Gbps InfiniBand, and Oracle ZFS storage, broke the tpmC benchmark when running a standard Oracle database, Oracle said.

Fowler also introduced the company's new SPARC64 VII+ processor, which was jointly developed by Sun and Fujitsu. The new SPARC64 VII+ processor features up to 20 percent more performance than the previous model thanks to a new clock speed of up to 3.0 GHz and a doubling of the L2 cache to up to 12 MBs.

Fowler said that, going forward, all new Enterprise M-series servers based on the new SPARC64 VII+ processors will be co-branded with the Sun and Fujitsu names.

On the SPARC64 processor side, Oracle plans to release models configured with eight to 64 processor sockets in 2012, to be followed by similar models with double the throughput by late 2013.

Next: New Solaris 11 OS, And HP's Reaction

On the SPARC T-series processor side, Oracle's roadmap calls for servers configured with up to four server sockets and triple the single instruction strand performance of previous models to be introduced late next year. They are expected to be replaced with models configured with up to eight processor sockets in 2013.

In addition to the new hardware, Oracle also unveiled Solaris 11, the newest version of the company's Unix operating system.

Fowler said Solaris 11 includes a wide range of new features, including the ability to work with hundreds of processors and thousands of cores with the power to run batch jobs in real time and run entire databases in memory.

Solaris 11 allows servers to be booted up in seconds and to be updated without rebooting, and has extensive fault management and application service management which allows failed applications and services to be restarted quickly.

With Solaris 11, security is turned on by default, ensuring that applications are secure as they boot, Fowler said. The new operating system enforces role-based root access, and automatically provides security for Oracle's ZFS storage.

In addition to server and storage virtualization, Solaris 11 now also includes network virtualization, Fowler said. The virtualization capabilities of Solaris 11 can be run across a cloud environment, he said.

Hewlett-Packard, Oracle's primary competition in the Unix market which Oracle serves with its SPARC processors and Solaris operating system, brushed off any concerns about Oracle's new product launches in a statement e-mailed to CRN which was not attributed to a specific executive.

"HP is the No. 1 provider of enterprise servers in the world. We are focused on our customers, and those customers continue to be won over by our combination of technology, product performance, and pricing. The numbers prove it – our Enterprise Storage and Servers segment saw 25% revenue growth year over year during Q4 FY2010, and HP was the only major UNIX vendor that reported server growth. (Oracle CEO) Larry Ellison bought a money-losing business that had steady market share declines for years, and which still ranks at the bottom of the market. Customers aren’t fooled by outdated benchmarks, no matter what Oracle says. HP’s market share results prove it. Sun customers are running to HP in droves because they recognize we deliver superior technology, performance and pricing ," HP wrote in that statement.